Scythe vs Sickle: Difference and Comparison

Man invented tools to help him facilitate different tasks. Farmers and peasants make use of tools in their life daily.

Two of the most commonly used are the sickle and the scythe. Since they look very similar, many people are confused between the two.

They are used mostly for the same purpose of reaping and hence add to the confusion.

Key Takeaways

  1. Scythes have long, curved blades and long handles, while sickles have short, curved blades and short handles.
  2. Scythes are suitable for cutting large grass or crops, whereas sickles are ideal for harvesting small areas or trimming edges.
  3. Scythes require a sweeping motion for cutting, while sickles use a pulling or sawing motion.

Scythe vs Sickle

A scythe is an agricultural tool with a long, curved blade that is used for cutting tall grass, weeds, etc. Its blade has a wooden handle with two hand grips. A sickle is an agricultural tool with a short, curved blade and a single handle. Its is used for harvesting crops like wheat, rice, etc.

Scythe vs Sickle
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A scythe is a tool with a long handle held by two hands, and a long, sharp, and curved blade used to cut long grass, grains, and crops.

It is an agricultural hand tool that has recently been replaced by tractor machinery. It is still used in some parts of Europe and Asia.

A sickle is another hand tool with a short handle that helps with one hand, a small curved blade used in cutting grass and, reaping, harvesting crops.

The sickle has seen many versions of it across different cultures, but the basic feature is a steel hook attached to a small handle.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonScytheSickle
Blade size and shapeThe blade is longer in size and a little elongated and curved.The blade is smaller in size and hook-shaped.
Handle sizeIt has a long handle with two grips.It has a short wooden handle.
Direction of swingIt can only be used in the right-to-left direction.It can be used in both right-to-left and left-to-right directions.
Position of userThe user has to be in a standing position to use a scythe.The user must be squatting and sitting to use a sickle.
Cutting forageIt cannot be used to cut forage.It can be used to cut forage.

What is a Scythe?

The word “scythe” originates from the old English word siðe. It has also been spelt as “sithe” or “sythe”. It is an agricultural hand tool mainly used for mowing grass, grains, and other crops by farmers worldwide.

The Romans were the ones who developed the earliest scythe. It was popular in Europe and North America until the early 20th century.

The different parts of a scythe are the blade, ring, snath, lower grip, and upper grip. The blade of a scythe comes in varying lengths from 12 inches to 50 inches and is made of iron.

The ring is a semi-cylindrical piece of metal that holds the blade and the snath together. The snath is the long handle of the scythe.

The upper and lower grip is where the user holds the scythe to mow the grass or crops. It is used in a standing position. In many folklores, the Grim Reaper or “death”, carries a scythe as his weapon of choice.

It is a symbol that compares death reaping souls of sinners to how a peasant reaps his crops with the scythe.

scythe

What is a Sickle?

A sickle, also known as the bragging or reaping hook, is used in reaping crops or cutting succulent forage to feed livestock, regardless of whether it is fresh or dried hay.

It has been in use since the pre-neolithic era. Since then, it has seen various versions over it over the years and worldwide with various designs for the hook.

The short handle forces the user to use it in a sitting position. Its cutting width is limited as the blade and handle are smaller. Hence it is also a slow labour-consuming process with low investment costs.

It is mostly used for reaping cereals and gardening. It has sometimes been known to be modified to be used as a weapon.

The sickle consists of four parts: the blade, tang, ferrule, and wooden handle. The blade is made of iron or carbon steel and can be plain or serrated.

The tang is the forged end of the blade that holds the handle, and the ferrule is a protective metallic bush to keep the tang in place. Some of the grim reaper folklore has also been known to show a sickle instead of a scythe as its weapon.

sickle

Main Differences Between a Scythe and a Sickle

The main difference between the scythe and sickle is the look. The sickle is smaller with a more curved or hook-like blade, whereas a scythe is bigger with a curved but elongated blade. Other differences are as follows:

  1. The scythe’s blade is attached to the handle or snath at right angles. The sickle has a semi-circular blade that attaches it to the handle.
  2. A scythe can only be used with two hands. The sickle can be used with one hand.
  3. A scythe is used upright, whereas a sickle requires the user to sit or squat.
  4. A sickle can be swung in both directions, whereas a scythe can only be in the right-to-left direction.
  5. A sickle can be used to cut forage for the livestock; a scythe cannot.
Difference Between a Scythe and a Sickle
References
  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/043087781798240129
  2. https://www.indianjournals.com/ijor.aspx?target=ijor:aet&volume=24&issue=3&article=002

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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21 thoughts on “Scythe vs Sickle: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The information about the history and origins of the scythe and sickle is quite fascinating. It gives a great insight into the cultural and historical significance of these tools.

    1. Avatar of Lloyd Stephen
      Lloyd Stephen

      Absolutely, Iking. Understanding the historical context of these tools adds a whole new layer of appreciation for their importance.

  2. The emphasis on the historical development of the scythe and sickle offers a valuable perspective on the evolution of agricultural practices over time.

  3. I find this article to be rather anachronistic, given the current state of agricultural technology. The extensive focus on outdated tools seems somewhat impractical.

  4. While this article might seem interesting from a historical perspective, I find it rather irrelevant given the advancements in farming technology. Why focus so much on outdated tools?

    1. I see your point, Howen. However, it’s essential to understand the roots of agricultural practices to appreciate modern innovations properly.

  5. The article provides a clear and concise overview of the scythe and sickle, catering to both agricultural enthusiasts and those seeking academic knowledge on the subject.

    1. Absolutely, Lily. The well-structured content here is beneficial for anyone looking to gain insights into agricultural tools.

  6. The inclusion of the historical context and comparative insights between the scythe and sickle elevates this article beyond mere technical specifications.

    1. I completely agree, Xcollins. The multi-dimensional approach to understanding these tools’ significance is commendable.

    2. Absolutely, Xcollins. The diverse perspectives presented here make this article an enriching read for anyone interested in agricultural history.

  7. Reading about the symbolic representation of the scythe in folklore adds an interesting dimension to its cultural influence beyond its practical use.

    1. Indeed, Jackson. The symbolic connotations of the scythe shed light on the broader cultural impact of agricultural tools.

    2. It’s a fascinating insight, Jackson. The inclusion of folklore connects the practical aspects of farming tools with broader human narratives.

  8. This article provides a comprehensive comparison between the scythe and the sickle, making it easy for anyone to understand the differences.

    1. I totally agree, Miller. The details provided are very informative and useful for anyone interested in agriculture or farming tools.

  9. Avatar of Phillips Will
    Phillips Will

    The intricate details about the parts and components of both the scythe and sickle add depth to the understanding of these tools’ mechanisms and functions.

    1. Absolutely, Phillips. It’s crucial to have a holistic view of these tools to comprehend their significance in agricultural practices.

  10. The detailed comparison table provided here clarifies the distinctions between the scythe and sickle, making it easier for farmers to choose the right tool for their needs.

    1. Definitely, Martin. It’s refreshing to see such precise and well-organized information presented in this article.

    2. I couldn’t agree more, Martin. Having a clear understanding of the differences can significantly impact agricultural productivity.

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